LONDON: The Luis-Suarez/racist-comment row showed no sign of abating after the player’s apparently grudging apology was followed by forthright criticism of Liverpool by Lord Ouseley, chairman of the Kick It Out campaign.
Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker had been banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 for comments to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra at Anfield in October. Earlier this week the club decided not to appeal but did so in stated terms which indicated that they did not accept any culpability.
Suarez issued two statements, one accepting the punishment, and then, after initicial criticism that he remained in denial, a further statement offering an apology to anyone who might have been offended by his single use of a word which was not considering an insult in his home country.
Ouseley described the terms of Suarez’s apology as “lamentable” and added that: “Liverpool need to take a hard look at themselves.”
Earlier, Kick It Out had commended Liverpool for choosing not to appeal against the ban.
However, Lord Ouseley, who was chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality from 1993 to 2000, wrote in The Guardian: “Liverpool need to take a hard look at themselves and how they have responded to the complaint and the investigations into the allegations of abuse in the Patrice Evra/Luis Suarez case. Throughout the entirety of the proceedings, over the past three months, all we have heard are denials and denigration of Evra.
“Since the publication of the 115-page report of the findings of the FA’s independent commission, Liverpool’s vitriol has increased. Suarez’s attempt at a belated apology is nothing short of lamentable.
“I cannot believe that a club of Liverpool’s stature, and with how it has previously led on matters of social injustice and inequality, can allow its integrity and credibility to be debased by such crass and ill-considered responses.
“Liverpool have been particularly hypocritical. You can’t on the one hand wear a Kick It Out T-shirt in a week of campaigning against racism when this is also happening on the pitch: it’s the height of hypocrisy. Liverpool players wore a T-shirt saying: ‘We support Luis Suarez’, seemingly whatever the outcome. This was a dreadful knee-jerk reaction because it stirs things up.”
Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, had suggested the FA could charge Liverpool and its manager Kenny Dalglish over their handling of the situation.
He said: “Liverpool have constantly undermined the investigation and its outcome. They have been disrespectful to the FA and questioned its integrity and neutrality. If a manager had done that in a post-match interview the FA would have brought disrepute charges.”